With drivers theoretically relieved from the duty of actually having to drive the car, they can now spend time figuring out what "Zoox" actually means. The start-up unveiled its concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and is now ready to reveal a few more details about its utopian mission of autonomous vehicles on its website.
Zoox refers to itself as a "Level 4 mobility company," defining Level 0 as a fully manually-driven car and Level 4 as "tilt your martinis, we're not driving this thing" autonomy. In fact, there are no Zoox "drivers," only "commanders" (very Star Trek) to give the car basic directions. From there on out, you have a totally different type of vehicle experience. The teardrop-shaped car can be fully symmetrical because there's no driving being done. Electric motors behind each of the four wheels make the car "bi-directional" (there's technically no "reverse"), four seats that face each other make the ride social, and carbon composites keep the vehicle light. The car is all-wheel drive, has all-wheel suspension and is controlled by all-wheel active steering.
There are no Zoox "drivers," only "commanders" (very Star Trek)
We don't know how much the vehicle will cost or how fast it will be but founder Tim Kentley-Klay tells Driving That Nation that he's met with Google. The company also says it's hiring engineers (here's guessing it'll need a lot of them) and that its cars will be on the road by 2021. And the first pedestrian who steps in front of one of those things to test its "360-degree machine vision" gets bonus points for being macho.
Autonomous driving is a topical subject for both its perceived safety and fuel-saving benefits. The state of Michigan was recently said to be on the verge of allowing for testing of autonomous vehicles on its roads, joining California, Florida and Nevada in that process. Last month, Nissan tested a self-driving all-electric Leaf on public roads in Japan. And last year, Volvo for the first time tested its "car train" concept, in which three remote-controlled Volvos drove behind a "leader" truck in Spain for a distance of more than 120 miles. The message? Zoox will have some serious competition in the self-driving sphere.